In March 2021, the FLA Volunteer project (hereinafter referred to as the project) was launched throughout Ukraine. Its purpose is to involve civic activists who have expressed a desire to become volunteers in the provision of free legal aid (hereinafter – FLA), which, in turn, enables them to gain a unique experience of volunteering in the FLA system and at the same time to contribute to the development of legally aware civil society in Ukraine.
In particular, the project envisages that volunteers will work in the field of the provision of free legal aid in the following areas:
- taking part in raising the legal culture and awareness of the population (legal education): informing citizens about the right to free legal aid and the procedure for its implementation;
- promoting citizens’ access to free primary and secondary legal aid: helping to post information, redirecting, communicating with united territorial communities, local self-government bodies, NGOs and unions, charitable foundations;
- helping to establish the interaction of the centres for the provision of FSLA with partner organizations.
Assisting regional and local centres for the provision of free secondary legal aid in carrying out their functions, project participants will get acquainted with the system of FLA in Ukraine, so to speak “from within”, gain new knowledge and experience in the field of free legal aid provision, receive free training (trainings, courses, seminars, etc.) both in the field of volunteering and in the legal field; develop their communication skills and other useful skills that will undoubtedly be useful to them in the future.
Also, the project gives a chance to young people and future lawyers to try themselves in the role of a lawyer, a volunteer with a certain specialization, while working with the FLA system. Thus, today we already have volunteers: advisers to internally displaced persons; family counsellors, in particular on combating domestic violence; land advisers; volunteers in court. A striking example of the work of judicial volunteers today is the Vinnytsia Local Court, the Vinnytsia Court of Appeal, in which volunteers help vulnerable groups to navigate the courtroom and provide them with other assistance.
The first results from the beginning of the project indicate its importance for people: both volunteers and consumers of FLA services: As of July 09, 2021, 304 volunteers are already volunteering in the field of free legal aid, with whom an agreement on volunteering in the field of free legal aid has been concluded and a volunteer ID has been issued. The total amount of time spent by volunteers on volunteering in the field of free legal aid is 2762 hours.
Who can become FLA volunteer?
Volunteers can be citizens of Ukraine, foreign nationals and stateless persons who are in Ukraine legally, are legally capable and have voluntarily expressed a desire to provide assistance, support and share the mission, vision and values of the FLA system. Persons aged 14 to 18 volunteer with the consent of their legal representatives.
How to become FLA volunteer?
Involvement of a person in volunteer activities in the field of FLA provision is carried out by FSLA provision centres. To do this, you need to go through the following steps:
- fill in the volunteer application form;
- take an online course on “Fundamentals of volunteering”;
- get an online certificate of successful completion of the course.
The authorized person of the centre shall check the documents of the candidate for volunteers, in particular the identity document, the certificate of successful completion of the online course and other documents (on academic degree, work experience, participation in or completion of courses, etc.), if available. After that, the candidate for volunteers shall be invited for an interview with the head of the relevant centre or an authorized person. The interview clarifies the person’s ability to volunteer, related to the relevant area of cooperation, motivation, work experience, education and other information that characterizes the volunteer candidate.
Documenting of volunteer relations
Following the successful interview between the volunteer and the centre, an agreement on volunteering in the field of FLA will be concluded. When entering into this document, the volunteer shall get acquainted with the memo regarding confidential information (personal data).
The contract is concluded in writing and contains mandatory conditions:
- description of volunteer activity (task);
- period of volunteering;
- rights and obligations of the parties;
- liability for damages;
- termination of the agreement.
After execution of an agreement with a volunteer, the centre shall issue him a volunteer ID, and a record of the inclusion of the person as a volunteer is made in the register of volunteers in the field of FLA.
Organization of volunteer activities
Rights and obligations of centres and volunteers are set out in the Laws of Ukraine “On Free Legal Aid”, “On Volunteering”, Regulations on Centres for Free Secondary Legal Aid, approved by Order of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine No. 967/5 dated July 2, 2012 and agreement on volunteering in the field of free legal aid.
Volunteers shall exercise their powers in accordance with the terms of the agreement and the volunteer’s work plan in the field of free legal aid under the guidance of the centre. Tasks of volunteers shall be determined by the centre taking into account their experience, education, business qualities of volunteers and the proposals made by them. Volunteers are expected to spend 1-3 hours per week on volunteering or at least 4 hours per month.
Evaluation of the volunteer’s work
The volunteer shall report to the authorized employees of the centre about the results of his/her work. Information on the results of the volunteer work shall be set out in the volunteer’s report on the provision of FLA, which is submitted to the centre on a monthly basis, in paper or electronic form.
The report shall specify the number of completed tasks, published author’s publications in the media and social networks, coverage of persons during the events, the number of persons referred to FSLA centres and bureaus, as well as the total amount of time spent on volunteering.
A volunteer who has been volunteering in good faith for a long time in the field of FLA, may receive a letter of thanks or a diploma, or other incentive awards from the centre.